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Vinnie Paz (AOTP) Torture Mothafuckas! Hip-hop's roughest, realest and hungriest collective since the emerge of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Army Of The Pharoahs, drop their debut album 'Torture Papers', March 21 on Babygrande Records. One of the founding soldiers, Vinnie Paz aka the Pazmanian Devil of the Jedi Mind Tricks, talks on the eventual album release and the philosophy behind the group.

When was the Army Of The Pharoahs officially a fact?

Me and Esoteric started talking about it around ?97, and then we dropped a 12 inch in late ?98. That's when it was official.

Who were the original members and how did y'all meet?

It was JMT, 7L and Eso, Kamachi, Bahamadia, Virtuoso, and Apathy. The Philly cats already knew each other, and I met Eso and Virt because we were just making the same kind of music and shit, so we linked up that way.

How did you got Bahamadia in the group?

She was just an old friend. I used to kick it with her and drink 40's at her radio show every Friday night.

The first album ?Torture Papers? drops March 21. What?s the meaning behind the title?

We just wanted to make a rugged record. Torture ?on paper?, ya know? It just fit. Nothing too complicated.

There are a few 'foreign' producers on the album like German producer Shuko and Norwegian producer White Shadow, how did you connect with those guys?

Well, Shuko worked on the Outerspace record, which I executively produced, so we just holla'd at him for some more heat. My man Maylay Sparks told me about White Shadow, so we just linked up from there.

It's been a while since the 12" 'Five Perfect Exertions' released, how come it took so long?

Everyone was just busy establishing their individual careers. In the end, I think it's good. Everyone is sharper now, so the record came out crazy. We're all in our prime right now.

The 'Rare Shit, Collabos, And Freestyles' Mix CD, can we still cop that somewhere?

I'm not sure. Maybe we'll press up some more and bring them on our next tour.

Are there any joints from that album on the new one or is it all new material?

Nah man, it's all brand new shit. Straight fire. Gutter shit.

There's a lot of solo projects coming out in the same period as the AOTP album, 7L&Eso's new album, J-Zone and Celph Titled's effort, Apathy's new album (dropping on the same day). Is that a good thing or a bad thing for the exposure of the AOTP release or the solo releases for that matter?

Look man, everyone is tryin to eat, so the more of us that are dropping records and doing good music... how can that be bad? It's just bringing more shine to the group as a whole, ya know?

Is this more of a one-time project or will AOTP continue to release (full) albums?

We had mad fun making this record. Everyone put their heart and soul into it. It's good for all of us to come together and make music because we're all friends first and foremost. I've know all of these cats for at least 10 years... so to answer your question, yeah, we're gonna do more records together. It just takes time.

There's already a few video's made, how important is it for you to have video clips? Will they be aired on national TV?

Who knows man. That shit is all political, ya know? It's always important to give people a visual to rock to, but whether the major networks will play it, that's a whole other story. We'll see.

How did you hook up with Babygrande Rec?

Chuck Wilson (CEO of Babygrande) was working at Priority records. We were gonna sign with him over there, but he left and started Babygrande. We were the first group on the label.

Why did you decide to bring it out as a ?Jedi Minds tricks presents? AOTP? Y?all felt like AOTP still isn?t a household name to get enough exposure without the JMT on the cover?

Maybe. JMT has a strong name at retail, so we just wanted to make sure the record gets heard.

Is AOTP an extension of Jedi Mind Tricks or a whole different group?

Nah, it's its own entity.

When's there gonna be a next Jedi Mind Tricks album?

Fall ?06. It's called ?Servants In Heaven, Kings In Hell?.

How do you decide on who does what and how much on the album?

The beat dictates that. If Kamachi would sound great on a specific beat, then he's gonna blackout on it. We all listen to all of the beats and everyone usually agrees on who should be on what.

How long did it take to record this, considering the difficulty of matching agendas?

Once we decided to do it, we banged it out in a few months. Everyone worked really hard on this joint man. You can hear it on the record. Everyone was mad dedicated.

How do you manage to keep the peace?

That wasn?t a problem. We're all professionals. We've been doing this shit for a long time.

Do y?all have the feeling like you bring out the best in each other?

I think we all bring out the best in each other. Nobody wants to get sonned by their homeboy on a track, so everyone came with that raw shit.

The emcees of the crew represent a certain vision or belief or awareness/commitment when they do solo projects, how was it to bundle this in one project with one vision?

We tried to stay away from our political and spiritual beliefs for the most part. We just wanted to make a good crew record. Raw rap shit.

What?s the strength of AOTP?

Good beats. We ALL know how to pick good beats. A lot of cats can rhyme, but they beats are trash. We got that murda shit.

Give us the 5 most important characteristics?

Hunger. Passion. Dedication. Respect. Loyalty to each other.

Being a crew with members out of Philly, Boston,... y?all are almost representin almost the whole right coast. Does this give any extra pressure or is it an extra motivation to ?conquer? those scenes with the one and only album?

We don?t really think about things that way. Dope shit is dope shit no matter where you?re from. I want my shit to be played in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. We think globally, not locally.

Say the crew needed just one more monster emcee, who would y?all like to add?

I think we're cool the way we are, man.

What were some of your major influences to make this crew thing happen?

Juice crew, Hilltop hustlers, Wu-Tang... just legendary crews.

If all the members of AOTP would be in the same (theatre) movie, what would the movie be about?

It would probably look like the version of ?The Real World? from Chappelle's show. (laughs)

Are you gonna be touring with the group or is that impossible considering y?all schedules? Y?all already bought the AOTP airplane? (laughs)

Yeah, the AOTP private jet is in full effect (laughs). We're gonna try to do some shows, but everyone has their own personal tours to attend to also, so we'll see.

What do you think hip-hop needs these days other then AOTP?

I just want someone to bring the east coast back kid. Nas, you listenin? JAY, you listenin? Hopefully Saigon and Papoose can do it.

Is AOTP becoming ?the trademark?/?logo-to-put-on? in the future for the members to release their solo?s? In comparison with like for instance the Wu-Tang Clan...

Hopefully, cousin, hopefully. If the record does really well, then you might see something like that. Only time will tell.


POSTED 03|18|2006
conducted by Cpf & Wulf

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